Chiao can be credited with bringing the VCU | Adweek Chiao can be credited with bringing the VCU | Adweek
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Chiao can be credited with bringing the VCU

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Chiao can be credited with bringing the VCU Adcenter into the blogosphere: He created www.rm116.com, a blog for students to discuss what's new in ad land, following a suggestion by a teacher to think of ideas to make the school better. The site quickly gained buzz and was written up in Fast Company as one of the best business blogs.

"He's definitely a techno guy, but he's very unique in his approach to solving problems," says Adcenter managing director Rick Boyko. "He's solving problems in ways that are not just traditional media. [His portfolio ads] start by looking at the strategy behind what the idea is rather than just three print ads in a book."

For example, his book contains Domino print ads that include revamping the sugar company's packaging, and an arty Game Boy campaign featuring light beams from the Game Boy Advance shot with a long exposure, then traced on a black wall in chalk.

It was attention-getting enough to score a job at Anomaly in New York, where he has been working for three weeks. "I think we all thought he had what it takes to excel here; his book was concept-driven, [his] attitude is extremely positive and, most of all, he was determined not to limit his ideas to any one channel," says Anomaly partner Jason DeLand.

The 24-year-old Houston native moved to Taiwan in seventh grade, where he attended an American school while his mom taught English and his dad worked as an engineer. While there, he spent time combing through art books at a bookstore called Eslite. "That's where I really fell in love with art and design and everything," he says. "It was open 24 hours. It was like my second home."

He returned to the U.S. to go to college, earning a degree in design and media arts at UCLA. Two internships the summer of his junior year shaped him—one at Crispin Porter + Bogusky's now-defunct Los Angeles office and another at RSA Productions.

Sally Hogshead at CP+B urged him to apply to the two-year master's program at VCU's Adcenter, which he finished in May. He took the art direction track, learning "you have to have a strong opinion about what you believe in." And he believes in nontraditional thinking. "I spent two years going to an ad school only to learn not to do ads," he says. "I really believe ... you have to go beyond, you have to interact [with the consumer]."